Standard Chartered Bank’s deep roots in Asia, and its presence in the majority of the BRI markets make it a natural winner of the award for Best Overall International Bank for BRI. It has been working with both its Chinese and global corporate clients, as well as its Chinese banking partners (among them the big four) and the policy banks, in funding many of the projects along the old Silk Road.
To show the bank’s support for the long-term success of the Belt and Road Initiative, Standard Chartered chairman José Viñals and China chief executive Jerry Zhang announced a further commitment by the bank to facilitating the financing of up to $20 billion in projects by 2020.
The commitment was made last December during the China-UK Economic Financial Dialogue held in Beijing. Under Simon Cooper, chief executive of corporate, commercial and institutional banking, Standard Chartered operates in 45 of the 67 countries designated by China as target markets of the Belt and Road Initiative, and in recent months the bank has hired more people on its China desks to cater to both Chinese companies and foreign companies participating in the infrastructure buildout.
“Standard Chartered has a very unique footprint. This footprint is very, very difficult to replicate,” says Carmen Ling, the bank’s Hong Kong-based managing director and head of global renminbi solutions. “It’s all about connectivity. We are the only commercial bank that has that kind of deep presence in the BRI region.”
In January this year, Standard Chartered signed an agreement with China Development Bank, whereby the policy bank will provide up to Rmb10 billion ($1.47 billion) worth of loans to the bank to lend on to BRI projects in the next five years.
It also signed a number of collaboration agreements with several big Chinese banks that lack the geographic and physical presence that Standard Chartered has across emerging markets. In April, the bank acted as joint global coordinator for $1.5 billion of three-year and five-year, dual-tranche senior unsecured notes for Bank of China Singapore Branch as part of Bank of China group’s BRI bond issuance. In June, the bank acted as joint global coordinator for a triple-tranche green bond (three-year $500 million/five-year $500 million/five-year €500 million) for the Industrial and Commerce Bank of China’s London branch.
Helping clients to issue performance bonds on construction projects along BRI has also been a key feature offered by the bank. For instance, earlier this year Standard Chartered issued a $20 million performance bond on behalf of China Harbour Engineering, guaranteeing its work and completion of jetty works that are part of a coal-fired power plant in Balochistan, Pakistan.
In late 2017, Standard Chartered Nepal was appointed as the escrow agent for the construction of a Nepal International Airport, financed by a Chinese policy bank, while Standard Chartered Pakistan provided three large Chinese clients with a simplified payroll payments capability to pay staff salaries to their families back in China without each employee having to open an account with the bank. This kind of payment arrangement, the first of its kind in Pakistan by Standard Chartered, streamlined the clients’ operational processes, while staff benefited from timely salary payments.